Thomas Woewiyu


Period of Activity First Liberian Civil War
IndictmentImmigration Fraud
StatusConvicted but deceased whilst awaiting sentencing


Trial Monitoring

Civitas Maxima followed the trial and produced a daily trial monitoring. You can find it here.

Our videos on the Woewiyu trial

Videos were created in collaboration with Nicolas Braguinsky Cascini.

Thomas Woewiyu founded the NPFL with Charles Taylor and served as Spokesman and Defence Minister until political dissonance led him to create and lead the NPFL-CRC during Liberia’s First Civil War (1989-1996).

In May 2014, Woewiyu was arrested at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, U.S.A, upon his return from a trip to Liberia. Woewiyu was charged with 2 counts of fraudulently attempting to obtain citizenship, 4 counts of fraud in immigration documents, 3 counts of false statements in relation to naturalization, and 7 counts of perjury. 

11 June 2018 marked the start of Woewiyu’s immigration fraud trial. Over 35 witnesses testified to his direct and indirect involvement with war crimes during the civil war. After 13 days in court, the jury found Woewiyu guilty on 11 of 16 counts on July 3, 2018; his maximum possible sentence is 75 years in prison. Woewiyu died on April 12, 2020, of COVID-19, in Philadelphia, US. He was still awaiting for sentencing.

Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) assisted the U.S. authorities during the investigation. 

This trial was the first time ever that somebody who held a ministerial position during the First Liberian Civil War faced justice and the first time that the atrocities of the NPFL – the most violent rebel faction active from 1989-1996 – were documented in a courtroom.